Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Community Bands Together After Historic Tornado

A day usually reserved for rest and relaxation turned into an afternoon of worry, frustration, and sadness as a town I called home during college was hit by a massive tornado causing unimaginable destruction and chaos in Joplin, Missouri.

Just 48 hours after an EF5 tornado landed in the middle of the southwest Missouri town where I grew up I stood on a street that had become unrecognizable. It was the spot of a friend’s apartment complex I had spent many hours studying, playing video games and hanging out at, but was completely leveled by Sunday’s horrible storms.

Many local and national organizations have made their way to Joplin to help in search and rescue efforts along with relief to the many people that have been left without. The American Red Cross and the United Way are just among the many organizations as well as numerous local volunteers coming together to help a hurting community.

I was able to go into the aftermath of what experts have already called one of the deadliest and most destructive tornadoes in United States history. Standing on the streets of friend’s houses I thought of the community efforts and how people can help just not in southwest Missouri, but within a community that we have branded ourselves, “I choose Division II.”

Joplin is the home of Missouri Southern State University where I attended college which has been set up for shelter and to help with relief efforts. As people around Division II athletics have come to know the school as Southern, head men’s basketball coach Robert Corn has helped partner with the Red Cross which has taken over his gymnasium, the Leggett & Platt Athletic Center. Leggett & Platt is a place where Corn and the Lions have been extremely successful advancing this last season to the NCAA South Central Regional tournament.

After having a first person account of the devastation many people still need help as a few student athletes have lost homes and apartment buildings were also leveled. Pictures and videos I had seen Sunday night on national news watching from Texas did not do justice or put in perspective the type of destruction roughly 30 percent of the city had endured.

I would like to encourage the ACU community and Division II community to continue to help as many local universities have already started the process as well as the local professional organizations. The University of Missouri along with head men’s basketball coach Frank Haith along with Missouri State’s Paul Lusk, a former Missouri Southern assistant, have began to help as much as they can. Also President Obama will land in Joplin on Sunday to visit and asses the damaged area.

Individuals wanting to help can help in a number of ways, but the most effective way for people to get involved is to donate money according to the national and local organizers.

Below is a short list of ways to help in the disaster relief:

Text-to-help: text JOPLIN to 864833, to give $10 or text REDCROSS to 90999
You can also donate to the United for Joplin by clicking here.

To donate more than $10 to the Red Cross for efforts or donations click here for more information.

The picture above is a convenient store that stood in the heart of a business district and looked across the road at a heavy residential area.

Phillip Dowden enters his second year at Abilene Christian as the Assistant Director for Athletic Media Relations and is a 2008 Missouri Southern graduate.

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